Page images
PDF
EPUB

on.

What that hand, for a while all-powerful, joined, that ever binds and knits itself more closely together. Napoleon waked earthly nationalities from their sleep. Christ revealed to men the idea of humanity. Before him there were no real nations except the Hebrew ; for unknown was that end to which nations tend, to which they gravitate, as planets to the sun. It is he who has promised that one day there shall be in the world but one flock and one shepherd. It is he who has ordered those praying to God to repeat every day these words, “Thy kingdom come’; and with even this prayer, for two thousand years, we have en. treated God for the manifestation of the idea of humanity. upon earth.

" The revelation of the Son of God must, then, pass through ages from an ideal state to a state of manifestation and realization ; on this depends the progress of humanity. The Christian word could not at once transform the policy of the Pagan world; for the political constitution and social existence of any epoch visibly depend upon the moral state of the individuals living in it

. Individual souls must therefore have become Christian, before the Christianizing of the relations between nations becomes possible.

“ But, in our days, every individual is a Christian, and the relations between individuals are Christian. Whither now are Christian ideas to be carried ? Visibly into a sphere untouched, untransformed, hitherto ; and such is the political sphere. Al. ready in these expressions, ' Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's, is contained the whole future movement of humanity ; for since all is God's, this state of separation, of temporary, momentary separation, between the property of Cæsar and of God must evermore diminish, and that which even yesterday was esteemed the property of Cæsar shall be to-morrow numbered among the things of God; till the dominion of Cæsar shall be counted as nothing, the kingdom of God as all."

The author believes that his own country is chosen as the instrument by which the progress of Divine ideas is to be furthered ; that the example of the wrongs and sufferings of Poland is to hasten the advance of the kingdom of God.

“ The Divine law, wounded and offended in this world, must possess the inward force to heal itself from the wound, to reinstate itself in its own form. In that nationality, by whose injury humanity has been most cruelly violated, the idea of humanity must most powerfully vibrate.

the creation to the present day. The Flood would be a mere circumstance in the great chain of events which went to the formation of his character, or had some influence, in some way, upon some person or some thing referred to in the terrible book.

Autobiographies are especially dangerous matters. They are generally written in advanced life, when senility conspires with egotism to magnify trifles, — when a man is quite apt to differ with the public in his estimate of himself, as he is and was,

when small events become dignified, and great events are belittled, as they may have borne upon his fortunes, - when the faculty of nice discrimination is, in a good degree, lost, — and when the temptation to discursiveness, garrulity, and all manner of gossipry has become irresistible.

No period of English history is more interesting or important than the forty years between the commencement of the American war and the battle of Waterloo. There have been times when there was much more of court intrigue, and of personal and unworthy jealousies and rivalrieś, among her distinguished men, — times, too, when the elements of domestic strife and revolution were more rise, and when the stability of the form of government was more seriously endangered ; but none when the struggle was so severe to maintain power, or so decisive in establishing England's true status among the nations.

The combination of Europe against her, during the latter years of our Revolution, rendered it doubtful whether she would not sink to the station of a second-rate power ; and the wars growing out of the French Revolution appear now, as they seemed then, to be struggles for national existence.

Such are the times which produce great men, and England had her full share of them. The second crop of such seasons is an abundance of biographies, and England has formed no exception to that rule. In stirring times, when startling events follow each other in rapid succession, every man feels his individual importance increased, without being aware that he is rising with the tide and not above it ; and very lamentable mistakes are, consequently, made in regard to the relative standing of men. The cock that enacts the crowing looks upon himself as contributing as largely to the great movement of the tragedy as the man who does Hamlet.

George III. is the prominent figure in all the accounts

1

of those days, not merely as the king, but as a monarch who, in an unusual degree, stamped his peculiarities upon the last thirty years of his sane life. His great peculiarity was his obstinacy, and most amusing it is to see how this trait in his character gave a tone to almost all the sayings and doings of the great men of the day, - how it was yielded to by the good-nature of North, how it was bullied by Fox, how it was scorned and circumvented by Pitt, how it was fed by the simplicity of Addington, and pampered by the congenial stubbornness of Eldon. The king's biography is one great ingredient in all the personal histories of the time.

We are inclined to think that the younger Pitt lias suffered more than any of his contemporaries by the universal outpouring of private anecdotes and personal experiences to which we have alluded. The stately pen of history, dealing merely with his vast intellectual power and the events of his protracted administrations, — so protracted, that, when he resigned in 1801, leaving a great part of his friends in office, Sheridan said he had sat so long, that, when he rose, he left, like Hercules, the sitting part of the man behind him, — this pen of history would have sent him down to posterity as entitled to universal admiration. But when the search is carried farther, it seems to us that that calmness which gave

him power in public was a coldness which was most forbidding in private life ; that he was not only imperious as a politician, and contemptuous as a subject, but haughty and exacting as a friend ; that he was self-seeking, somewhat unscrupulous in his selection of means, with all his father's proud self-reliance, without Chatham's occasional bursts of generous feeling ; that he was a noble temple of ice, solid, brilliant, but never thawing into self-forgetfulness, and never warming the hosts of worshippers, which, in common with all noble temples, he gathered around him.

It is curious to trace, by the aid of several recent books of memoirs and biographies, his course on the occasion before referred to, in 1801. He found himself at war with France, and the nation wishing, and almost clamoring, for peace. He found bimself unable to conclude a peace upon terms which would be consistent with his own honor, or, as he thought, compatible with the interest of England. He knew that peace upon any other terms would soon become unpopular ; that

is and was,

the creation to the present day. The Flood would be a mere circumstance in the great chain of events which went to the formation of his character, or had some influence, in some way, upon some person or some thing referred to in the terrible book.

Autobiographies are especially dangerous matters. They are generally written in advanced life, when senility conspires with egotism to magnify trifles, — when a man is quite apt to differ with the public in his estimate of himself, as he

when small events become dignified, and great events are belittled, as they may have borne upon his fortunes, — when the faculty of nice discrimination is, in a good degree, lost, - and when the temptation to discursiveness, garrulity, and all manner of gossipry has become irresistible.

No period of English history is more interesting or irnportant than the forty years between the commencement of the American war and the battle of Waterloo. There have been times when there was much more of court intrigue, and of personal and unworthy jealousies and rivalrieś, among her distinguished men, — times, too, when the elements of domestic strife and revolution were more rife, and when the stability of the form of government was more seriously endangered ; but none when the struggle was so severe to maintain power, or so decisive in establishing England's true status among the nations. The combination of Europe against her, during the latter years of our Revolution, rendered it doubtful whether she would not sink to the station of a second-rate power ; and the wars growing out of the French Revolution appear now, as they seemed then, to be struggles for national existence.

Such are the times which produce great men, and England had her full share of them. The second crop of such seasons is an abundance of biographies, and England has formed no exception to that rule. In stirring times, when startling events follow each other in rapid succession, every man feels his individual importance increased, without being aware that he is rising with the tide and not above it ; and very lamentable mistakes are, consequently, made in regard to the relative standing of men. The cock that enacts the crowing looks upon himself as contributing as largely to the great movement of the tragedy as the man who does Hamlet.

George III. is the prominent figure in all the accounts

1

of those days, not merely as the king, but as a monarch who, in an unusual degree, stamped his peculiarities upon the last thirty years of his sane life. His great peculiarity was his obstinacy, and most amusing it is to see how this trait in his character gave a tone to almost all the sayings and doings of the great men of the day, - how it was yielded to by the good-nature of North, how it was bullied by Fox, how it was scorned and circumvented by Pitt, how it was fed by the simplicity of Addington, and pampered by the congenial stubbornness of Eldon. The king's biography is one great ingredient in all the personal histories of the time.

We are inclined to think that the younger Pitt lias suffered more than any of his contemporaries by the universal outpouring of private anecdotes and personal experiences to which we have alluded. The stately pen of history, dealing merely with his vast intellectual power and the events of his protracted administrations, — so protracted, that, when he resigned in 1801, leaving a great part of his friends in office, Sheridan said he had sat so long, that, when he rose, he left, like Hercules, the sitting part of the man behind him,

this pen of history would have sent him down to posterity as entitled to universal admiration. But when the search is carried farther, it seems to us that that calmness which gave him power in public was a coldness which was most forbidding in private life ; that he was not only imperious as a politician, and contemptuous as a subject, but haughty and exacting as a friend ; that he was self-seeking, somewhat unscrupulous in his selection of means, with all his father's proud self-reliance, without Chatham's occasional bursts of generous feeling ; that he was a noble temple of ice, solid, brilliant, but never thawing into self-forgetfulness, and never warming the hosts of worshippers, which, in common with all noble temples, he gathered around him.

It is curious to trace, by the aid of several recent books of memoirs and biographies, his course on the occasion before referred to, in 1801. He found himself at war with France, and the nation wishing, and almost clamoring, for peace. He found himself unable to conclude a peace upon terms which would be consistent with his own honor, or, as he thought, compatible with the interest of England. He knew that peace upon any other terms would soon become unpopular; that

« PreviousContinue »